asked the Prime Minister whether he has now been able to give consideration to the case for assisting and improving the public transport services in the rural areas of Great Britain as put to him by the deputation led by the hon. Member for Hexham which he received last December; and whether he will make a statement.
While thanking the Prime Minister for the personal interest that he is now taking in this problem, may I ask him whether he realises the intense irritation which exists in rural areas of Britain at the failure of the Government to get a move on on this problem? Does he realise that it is more than eleven years ago since the Conservative Party in its Election Manifesto promised better services. Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that it is more than two years ago since Professor Jack's Committee reported on the role of these services. Does my right hon. Friend realise that the National Association of Parish Councils considers that the surveys to which he has referred are so unnecessary and such a waste of time and money that they are not cooperating on them?
As a member of the deputation that the Prime Minister was good enough to see some time ago, may I ask him whether he is aware that when the Beeching Plan is implemented the already inadequate rural transport services will be worsened? Will he give an assurance that before any railway stations are closed—especially in Norfolk—roads will be improved, so that they are able to carry the increased volume of traffic thrown on to them?
It is a question of the profitability of the rural bus services, but I would have thought that if passengers are conveyed only upon the roads, rather than divided between the trains and the roads, it should help the bus services.